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The scoop on careers

By CATHY BUSSEWITZ
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The No. 1 website local teenagers use for research is YouTube.

That was a key, if surprising, finding when volunteers Suzy and Mike Marzalek, along with Chop’s Teen Club, surveyed 200 middle and high school students.

VISION REALIZED: Suzy and Mike Marzalek, center, show off their jobsmadereal.com website at Chop's Teen Club week with the help of Chop's staffers Caroline Gonzalez, left, and Melissa Stewart. (CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat)

VISION REALIZED: Suzy and Mike Marzalek, center, show off their jobsmadereal.com website at Chop’s Teen Club week with the help of Chop’s staffers Caroline Gonzalez, left, and Melissa Stewart. (CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat)

The discovery helped inspire the couple to create www.jobsmadereal.com, a website designed to teach young people about careers in a medium they prefer — video.

The Marzaleks partnered with Chop’s to execute the vision.

“It has a whole YouTube look and feel, because teens told Chops how they like to learn, and the whole website was built with that in mind,” Suzy Marzalek said.

Short videos give young viewers a glimpse into the life of a graphic designer, a ship pilot, a mint farmer and even a cowboy. They’ve peppered the site with details about salaries, job outlook and personality traits that are suited to each job, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We learned that teens, and some of the people at the college level, they don’t really know enough about what people really do to take advantage of mentoring or job shadowing,” Suzy Marzalek said. “This is one way to give them insight into what people really do.”

Mike Marzalek spent many hours scouring YouTube for career videos, and then set up links to relevant clips.

“Suzy and I did some initial development but the real meat of the website was developed in conjunction with Chop’s,” Mike Marzalek said. “The whole community has been really heavily involved.”

The Marzaleks have been just as heavily involved with the rest of the community. They were recently named 2013 Philanthropists of the Year by United Way of Wine Country.

“They are truly what the community is all about,” said Mike Kallhoff, president and CEO of United Way of Wine Country. “This is one of the easiest awards we’ve ever given out, because they do so much. These are people that you see all across town. They’re doing everything.”

The couple began volunteering 15 years ago, when Suzy was flying around the world for work, and realized she wanted to be more connected to the community, Suzy Marzalek said. Both are very concerned about access to education, health care and food.

“It does go back to my father, who asked himself every morning when he got up what he could do to make the world better that day,” Suzy Marzalek said.

She sits on numerous boards, including those of Redwood Empire Food Bank, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, Roseland University Prep, Community Action Partnership, Sutter Medical Center and Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific.

Although he modestly declined to elaborate, Mike Marzalek has been volunteering his engineering talents to improve cochlear implant devices, which are designed help those who are very hard of hearing.

“He’s been writing software, and using himself as a guinea pig to see if he can make it better,” Suzy Marzalek said.

Both are longtime volunteers and donors with United Way and support Santa Rosa Junior College and Scholarship Sonoma County.

“Doing some of this together … it’s just so amazing to share this,” Suzy Marzalek said. “Oh my goodness, to have these shared values around giving back to the community, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

(You can reach Staff Writer Cathy Bussewitz at 521-5276 or cathy.bussewitz@pressdemocrat.com or on Twitter @cbussewitz.)